THIS BLOG is created by the Arts & Media Archaeology team at the Antwerp Research Institute for the Arts (ARIA, UAntwerp) and associated colleagues. We want to offer a peek behind the scenes of our research, including visits to unique archives or remarkable private collectors, seminars with international speakers, media archaeological experiments, and inspiring cases. Our aim is to showcase the varied and challenging nature of our research process.

Subscribe toour newsletter

Questions orsuggestions?


Decoding Fairground Newspapers: Analysing History with Large Language Models

Can large language models (LLMs) and artificial intelligence (AI) unlock the secrets hidden within historical documents, such as showpeople periodicals? This question propelled researchers from the universities of Antwerp, Luxembourg, and Marburg to explore the potential of LLM/AI in a one-day workshop.
On 12 March 2024, scholars from the University of Antwerp (ARIA), the University of Luxembourg (C2DH), and the University of Marburg (Institute for Media Studies) joined forces to conduct preliminary tests for an interdisciplinary research project. This international group of researchers aims to study the changing mobility patterns of itinerant showpeople in Europe over a century-long period with a focus on their professional and family networks, and their channels for information and knowledge circulation. With little known about the intricate dynamics of their nomadic lifestyle, the team seeks to uncover these hidden narratives from 1880 to 1980.

Read More

If ghosts could speak

Levitating tables, conversations with deceased family members, or fortune-telling: spiritism was a “hot item” in nineteenth-century Belgium. PhD researcher…

Read More

Showpeople as early adopters

What role did science and technology once play at the fairground? And how were new technologies such as X-ray technology, photography, and film presented and…

Read More

Leave more room for chance, intuition and unexpected twists

Nele Wynants is a professor of art and theatre studies at UAntwerp. Her research is on the interface of science, media and performance. In her EU-funded…

Read More


This blog is an initiative of the Arts & Media Archaeology team at the Antwerp Research Institute for the Arts (UAntwerp) and associated colleagues.

We study the circulation of science, knowledge and visual culture through popular entertainment in the long nineteenth century. How were science and technology introduced to large audiences? What forms of knowledge were transmitted and disseminated through popular culture? What role did visual media play in the circulation of knowledge? At the same time, we look at how this culture continues to affect us today with attention to the changing relation between art and science.

Our interdisciplinary team brings together artists and researchers from Art and Performance Studies, Media Archaeology and Cultural History. We share an interest in the interactions between performance, science and technology, and their media archaeological entanglements.


SciFair is a five-year research project (2021-2026) funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 948678 – SciFair).